Tuesday, 25 September 2007

What is an RSS Feed and why add to my blogpage?

This post is in reply to Alison's question ...how do I add an RSS to my page?

First up what is an RSS Feed?
A Web document that is a shortened version of a Web page that has been created for syndication. Feeds usually end in .xml or .rss. (webopedia)

I have seen the question asked..."Why do readers need an RSS when they have the URL for my blog?" Because rather that visiting all the sites I want to read, individually, I can keep up with current content changes through a feed aggregator.

What is a Feed Aggregator?
In Internet technology it is software or a hosted application that collects feeds from various sources and displays it in a single consolidated view, either in a window on your desktop or in a Web browser. Also called feed aggregator or RSS aggregator. (webopedia)

This is an efficient way to keep track of content I am interested in, also I can access my aggregator from any computer online. Content includes blogs, podcasts, email, images, twitter ...basically anything you want to keep track of.

Why do I want to add a feed tool to my blog page?
To encourage and assist readers to stay up-to -date with your blog?

How do I add an RSS to my page?
In blogger there is a Feed link at the bottom of the page...it looks like this.
If a reader clicks on the link, a subscription will be created through their aggregator.
Also you might want to use FeedBurner a web-based tool that helps promote content from your blog. I have added a FeedBurner link to the sidebar of this blog as an example, and posted a PDF of instructions on the ICTinEnglish wiki.

If you want to subscribe to feeds from your favourite sites you will need to set up an aggregator first. My next post will cover this. I strongly recommend you do this as it make keeping up with new content, faster and alerts you to what is really of interest to you. In the meantime here are some aggregators, my favourite is NetVibes.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Adding files to your blog.

Have been asked about uploading document files to blogger. Here are some suggestions, would welcome tips from you too please.

I typically load files to my wiki rather than the blog and just include links to the wiki page. For example, see Teacher Resources on this wiki page, includes Slideshare files and PDFs that can be downloaded

Box.net allows you to upload files and create code that places a widget on your blog from which you can share files. See an example of this on Rocky's blog.

I have a preference for Slideshare. Upload a PDF to your free slideshare account. There are options for a url link to your file or copy the code and paste into your blog or wiki. You are also able to upload PowerPoints.
If you are using Keynote on the Mac just save as a PDF first.

Also recommend you save PowerPoints as PDFs too before uploading as it reduces the file size. For example, here is a link to one of my posts where I have included a PDF that has been uploaded to Slideshare. The file can be viewed from the blog or click through to Slideshare to download.

More suggestions from Allanah's Bling4yrBlog Allowing a pdf type download from the Blog

Then you could always forget about creating files on your computer and go straight to online documents. Have tagged a selection of options in My del.icio.us

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

The Rise of Web 2.0

TeacherTube can be a great resource as well to introduce students to Web 2.0. (blogging, widgets, publishing,etc...)
Here is a video by a NZ teacher:

Library Blogs Part 2

Alison asked about library blogs last month.

Have a look at The Girvan Library Blog. As well as featuring books the blog links to a wiki with reading lists and also includes a categories list in the side bar. This is a useful tool for highlighting groups of posts in a blog eg: book categories, posts by a student, topics. In this bog it would make it easy for readers to link to books posted by categories or genre. To set this feature up if you are using blogger click here for instructions.

Readers are also invited to leave comments...again raises the question of strategies for encouraging participation through commenting. Any suggestions or activities that you have tried in this area?

Friday, 7 September 2007

"To blog or not blog...?"

Dave Corimer shares his recent presentation Blogging - Not ‘IF’ but When and Where. UPEI presentation. He provides an overview of blogging with a focus on tertiary education and links to examples challenging readers with the question...
In short, the presentation will try to explain that we need to move beyond the question about whether blogging is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ or ‘useful’ that is not ’should I use blogs in my classroom?’ and move on to the question ‘what is the most effective use of the blog in my classroom?’ (Dave Cormier)"

Recommend reading through the comments in response to this post...see specifically Comment 2 from Sharon Peters an English High School Teacher.

Thanks to George Siemens for linking to this post.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Wikis and podcasting

English will never be the same.

I am inspired by the great ideas on this blog, and can't wait to try a few out.

In the meantime I thought I will share with you a very successful experience.

I took a group of reluctant writers aged 12-13, and talked to them about wikis and collaborative writing. They got quite excited by and so formed themselves into 3 groups and proceded to write a collaborative story.
They met physically about 2 times a week to discuss plot, characters, etc., but most of the discussions took place on the wiki in out of school hours.
These writers got absolutely involved in their story and are so, so proud of their efforts.
In the words of one '...the only thing I have ever succeeded in at school', and she is now Y8!
They didn't want to stop with just writing a story, so now they are in the process of recording each story chapter and podcasting them.

You can read their stories on their collaborative tales wiki and listen to their podcasts.
The Last Resort - Lost at War - The Hynotiser
These are still in progress so come back and visit in a few weeks for the next update.